Recliner help

Lena-Grey-ReclinerOK folks, I am on the hunt for a recliner that is comfortable for my husband, but not big and puffy. Something reasonably stylish, with straight arms instead of rounded-over ones. Bonus if it comes in grey.

The closest thing I’ve found so far is this one, but since it has not one review, I don’t know how comfy it is, and I’m a little leery to pull the trigger. Can anyone point me to a good one?

PS–double bonus if it’s under $500.

Our next adventure

I looked at my blog the other day and was shocked at how long it’d been since I’ve last posted. We did just get back from church camp, which with all the cooking and prep that I do each year, does take a bit of time. I was also working extra before we left to make up for the days off.

But there’s also another thing that’s kept us busy lately, and I’ve been itching to tell you about it. You may remember that awhile back we bought a piece of land on the Oregon coast, with the big audacious dream of building a house there someday? Well, that day is coming soon!


We lined up a contractor and nailed down our house plans, and talked through the nitty gritty details of cost, and decided that 2016 is the year!  We hope to have a building permit by mid-July, and if plans come together as our contractor is predicting, we could have this house built by the end of the year.  Squeeee!

It has been a whirl of phone calls around here lately, mostly between our contractor and me, working out all the many details.  There’ve also been lots of text messages with the wonderful Becky, my friend who staged our previous home so beautifully that it sold in 36 hours.  She is giving me advice regarding flooring and furnishings, with the goal of making this home a stylish, comfortable and family-friendly retreat.  Our plan is to use it for our own family several weeks of the year, and then rent it out to other families during the rest of the year.  I’ve done a ton of thinking and research to make it functional for groups with a variety of sizes and needs.

The house is 6 bedrooms and 4-1/2 baths, which includes 3 full master suites.  There’s also some fun bunk space planned for kids in the family room downstairs, allowing the house to sleep 16 in beds, with 4 more possible on cots if your crew is really big.

The outdoor living space will include a hot tub, a fenced yard, and a big deck with gated stairs for kid-safety.  We’re also planning a wheelchair ramp, an accessible bathroom, and a stair chair to cater to folks with mobility issues.

The neighborhood has a pool, good beach access, and tennis courts, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium is just 20 minutes north, so there are many good outdoor options nearby.

I’ve rambled long enough for now.  But I’m so excited that I want to pinch myself, so you can bet you’ll be hearing more about this adventure very soon!


Spray painting plastic chairs: does it work?

When we moved, we brought some white plastic lawn chairs that didn’t end up matching with the rest of the back yard decor, which is mostly black lawn furniture with some red and yellow accents.  The white didn’t clash, but it got kind of lost against the white fence, and because the chairs were old, they also looked pretty dingy, even after a good scrubbing.

I happened across a post on Pinterest sharing the idea of spray painting plastic lawn chairs, so I bought some red Rustoleum paint in apple red and decided to give it a shot.  The article I read said that a matte finish worked best, but I accidentally grabbed gloss at the store, so that’s what I went with.

The hardest thing in our tiny yard turned out to be tarping off enough space that I would not be over-spraying onto or patio or our white fence. #tinyyardliving  🙂  But once I did that, the job went fairly quickly.


It ended taking a a full can of paint for each chair. I did one coat covering as much of the chair as I could, then waited for that coat of paint to dry before going over each chair again to hit the spots that got poor coverage the first time.

The cans of paint cost about $4 each.   Granted, new plastic chairs aren’t tons of money.  But I’ve had a lot of trouble with newer plastic lawn chairs being brittle and much more prone to breakage than the older ones. (Anyone else notice this?) I felt like it was worth the $4 to get some more use out of the old ones, and I am really enjoying the colorful update.


Here’s a closer view of one of the chairs a couple weeks after painting them.  The paint seems to be sticking just fine, and I like the way the red adds some color and interest to this corner of the yard.  This corner of the yard really gets blasted by sprinklers, so I needed something that could tolerate getting wet every day.  The verdict so far: it’s a winner!


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The garden is coming together!

I’ve had such fun seeing how much garden I can fit into this tiny back yard of ours!  (The answer: quite a bit)  I now have a total of 6 raspberry canes, 5 tomato plants, four peppers, four strawberry plants (Julianna had to have strawberries!), three cilantro plants, two cucumbers, and one watermelon plant.  Oh, and mint.  I have two tiny baby mint plants.  See?


Instead of planting everything together, I chose to spread things out. I love the idea of fruit and flowers growing all together. Here you can see my cilantro in with my flowers.

CilantroIt is doing so well it is threatening to take over the containers.  Guess it’s already time to chop some up and do some guacamole.


I’m not quite sure how the part-sunny places in the yard will do for the tomatoes, so I decided to try them out in a few different places.

Here’s the bed against the house– it gets tons of morning sun, but is shaded by 2 PM or so. I put a couple strawberries in this bed along with tomatoes and flowers.  Hoping I don’t kill the azalea in the middle.

BigTomatoesI majorly splurged on the two big tomato plants in this bed.  Bought HUGE ones in April, which is why I already have half a dozen or so green tomatoes.  My dollar/tomato ratio is terrible at this point, but I’m hoping good yields all summer will eventually justify that $15/plant (eek) cost.  Maybe.



Since this bed against the house doesn’t have sprinklers in it, I added a soaker hose on a timer.  For a couple minutes John and I were puzzling over what to do with the bit of soaker hose that was hanging over the concrete next to the spigot, not really wanting a big puddle there.  But then we thought to put the pet water dish under it. Now the cats and dog get a fresh refill twice a day.  The dog loves it, and runs to get a fresh drink each time she hears it turn on.


And just in case you’re wondering about the writing on the wall in that previous photo, here’s a shot of my husband’s latest project– a shed addition built onto the side of the house.  He is a woodworker and since we’ve moved in has had tarps covering his woodworking materials, since there’s not enough garage space to house it all.  No more– all that wood is safely under cover now, and he has a good place to work on projects as well.  He is looking forward to the arrival of the siding so it will start looking like part of the house instead of an add-on.


This week he also built the little fence you see in the photo, to separate the ‘working’ part of the yard from the entertaining space.  It also gives us a place to put the dog when we’re entertaining, so she won’t continually have her nose four inches from guests’ plates, begging for bites of their burgers.  I am planning on whitewashing that new bit of fence so that it will match the gate.  (Do you remember that gate from our old house?  We couldn’t stand to leave it.)

I think the plant below is called a spirea.  I am excited to see all the buds that mean flowers are coming soon!


On the south end of the yard (the far end in this photo– you can’t really see it in this photo, but it’s there) I planted bamboo, intermixed with more strawberries.


The tall fence next to it give it continual shade, which I am hoping will help the bamboo thrive.  The variety I chose is called Fargesia rufa, which is a clumping type which means it is less invasive than some other types, and is supposedly an evergreen in Idaho.  I am excited to see how it will do.  Hopefully I won’t kill it.

Then here are some photos of the main portion of my garden.  I’ve sheltered it against the fence behind the firepit area so that pets and kids are less likely to run through it.


Here’s the east ‘leg’ of it, with freshly planted tomatoes and sweet peppers.  I opted to give cages even to the peppers, since our cats tend to lie down in fresh plantings.


As you can see, I am doing landscape fabric and bark to decrease the weeding time.  This first year I’ve spend a fair bit of time establishing all these new beds, but I am trying to lay it all out so that it will be reasonably easy care all summer long.  Love, love, love the fact that this yard has in-ground sprinklers.  A simple thing to most people, but something that we didn’t have at our other place, and when I hear those sprinklers go on, I can’t help but smile.  Ahhhhhh…..

Here’s one last shot of the garden.  This is the north side of the yard.  It gets sun almost all day long, and here I’ve planted a watermelon, a jalapeno, two tomatoes and two cucumbers.  Once again, I protected almost everything that’s small with tomato racks or bamboo stakes– our cats just love to lounge wherever I’ve just been working.

Here I’ve also planted a few flowers and a pampas that is supposed to get 10 feet tall.  (Eeek!)  If it really gets that big it may overwhelm the space.  But I am hoping for a nice sheltered feeling to the firepit area.  I will try to update you later in the summer when things have had awhile to grow!


What do you do….

…when you’ve moved into a house where the back yard has high fences and your sweet lil puppy dog has absolutely zero view on the world?

A shady corner of the yard

Well, you go to Hobby Lobby and you find a really cool piece of framed decorative metal (on sale for $30), and you cut two boards out of the gate.  Then you put your cool bit of metal over the hole you (or your amazing hubby) just made in your gate.

View from inside the yard

Voila!  A window in the wall, a perfect peep hole for toddlers and malamutes.


Peekaboo, I see you!

Peeking out

Not bad for $30 and 20 minutes of work.

Just a glimpse

Dog tested and approved.


Our back yard

I’ve been having lots of fun lately working on our back yard. It started out as a very barren rectangle of grass and concrete, and even after a bit of work the grass is still in need of some help.  But in general the yard is looking lots more interesting these days, so I thought I’d show you some photos.  As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

I got the yard whipped into shape just in time– on Sunday we had a bunch of family over for a late Easter celebration.  Just for fun we did even more Easter egg hunting with the little ones, and thanks to the new landscaping, we had lots more spaces to hide eggs.

Tho some of course landed right in the middle of the yard.  After all, our little hunters range in age from 1 to 4.

My very favorite photo is this one of my momma with her youngest great-grandchild Meg, enjoying a fun little swing that I splurged on.

My momma

We may not have space for a whole swing set here, but a swing like this is a perfect fit.   One of these days I may even steal a little time to sit in it myself!  Preferably with a kiddo to cuddle.

Starting on the back yard

I’ve been derailed for the past few days by the dreaded puking bug.  Today I’m feeling better though I still have not gone beyond toast and Sprite and cold cereal in the food department.  And sadly, now Julianna is sick.  Bah, humbug.  Hoping everyone else will continue to feel healthy.

I wanted to tell you about the beginnings of our back yard project, at least the part that I began last week before illness struck. Our back yard at our new house is incredibly small.  It’s 30 feet from the back door to the back fence, and that includes about 10 feet of concrete patio.  Our living room is deeper than our back yard.

One of the reasons we moved was to have less yard work and upkeep, so that’s good. But this box of grass edged with fence and concrete is pretty boring.  I am eager to transform it into something that would be a fun place for entertaining, despite its small size.  So I’ve been doing a bit of scheming.

Here are some of the ideas I have so far, drawn up with a cool program that I looooove called Chief Architect.

Yard Ideas

The grey in the drawing is the already existing concrete. The patio cover doesn’t exist yet, and we may actually do a pergola instead of a fully covered patio—still thinking through that.

In the left lower corner of the drawing I’m planning a lawn swing under some kind of a trellis draped with creeping vines.  Or possibly we’d even set up the trellis as a swing set, like the photo below, with a swing or two for bigger kids alongside one for little ones.  We won’t have space for something that big, but you get the idea.



Against the house to the left of the patio is a narrow flowerbed where we will try a tomato plant or two.  John isn’t sure how tomatoes will do there though, with only east and south sun.  The bed is shaded in the afternoon.

Here’s a view of the yard in that direction, which shows the space where I was imagining a trellis swing, as well as the little flowerbed against the house, which you can’t actually see because of the grandkids’ bikes. The bikes are strategically placed to block the cats from going  to the bathroom there, and will be moved at tomato-planting time.

Yard towar the south

Side note:  all four of our cats successfully made the move from the farm to the subdivision- a major miracle since two of them are rather wild barn cats who don’t like each other a bit, and we weren’t at all sure that they’d stay put. They did, but boy, do they look bored these days!

The above picture also gives you and idea of how small the yard is.  🙂  But there’s lots of concrete to set tables on, so that’s good.  We can feed a crowd!

To the right of the patio (in the yard plan) is another narrow flowerbed against the house that is already in existence.  It already contains a couple of rose bushes and I am thinking it might fit some cucumbers on a narrow trellis.  Are there any shade-loving cucumbers?  I need to ask John…

On the right side of my yard plan is a seating area around a fire pit, with a narrow space between the seating area and the fence where I would like to have some plantings.  This is not yet in existence, but it will be our first yard project. I am picturing a dwarf butterfly bush and maybe a couple small evergreens in that space, along with a few tomato plants and peppers.

The other day Julianna and I went to Lowe’s and found some nice rough-top landscape blocks.  My son in law who does landscaping suggest that this type of landscape block is easier to set as flowerbed edging than blocks of a more uniform shape, since they are more forgiving of slightly uneven placement.  I wasn’t sure how many we’d need, but I started with 40, which fit in the back of my little car quite nicely.


The next day I spread landscape fabric across the living room floor and figured out about how big an area we’d need to fit several chairs and benches, as well as a fire pit space.

Then it was time to stake down the landscape fabric in that corner of the yard and edge it with blocks to try out the design.

Here’s how it looked from the patio after I got done playing with the design.

Firepit area

And here’s the view from an upstairs window.

Firepit area

Looking at it from above, I can tell that I’d like the space to be just a little broader and more rounded. So I am going to get more blocks (yup, I used all 40) and pull the space just a bit more out from the corner.  While I am rearranging the space, I’ll weed-kill the lawn area that will be covered by the landscape fabric, and add another layer of landscape fabric for more weed protecting.  Then it’ll be time to bring in some flat blocks for the front edge of the space, and add gravel in the center.

Still lots to do, but I am excited to see the beginnings of the space laid out.  And oddly enough, having something laid out in that corner of the yard makes it look bigger than it did with just grass in the corner, something I didn’t actually expect.

I’ll keep you posted!



I enjoyed reading these pieces and thought you might also

On Living Set Apart

Simple (and small) Living

Ready or Not


Then there’s this brilliant pine cone idea from A Fanciful Twist

Now we’re cooking with gas

I think I told you that just before we moved out of the old house, in the midst of repainting and recarpeting and replacing the whole kitchen,  our oven broke, forcing us to buy brand a brand new range also—a mite frustrating after all the money we’d already poured into the house, especially given the fact that we wouldn’t even get to enjoy it ourselves.   When we moved, after all that work, I was set to be content with the new house as it was for awhile, including the old(ish) white appliances. No sense fixing them til they broke, we figured.

Sure, the dishwasher was rusty, but it worked.

We couldn’t quite figure out why the ice maker in the fridge didn’t work, but I figured an ice maker wasn’t essential.  John and Z sure missed it though.

Then the biggest burner on the stove broke.  I definitely missed that. Grr.

Then the rusty dishwasher stopped draining, and it became impossible to tell if the dishwasher had run or not. Hmm.  Maybe it was time to think about new appliances for this house after all.

When one of our grown kids mentioned they were looking for a range-hood microwave (white to match their other appliances) we decided to give that to them since it was the only thing that still worked perfectly here.  And then we steeled ourselves for the budget bite and went hunting for kitchen appliances.

After hunting around, we found a nice big discontinued-model fridge for $899 at Lowe’s–not bad at all for a stainless fridge of that size.  And lo and behold, Lowe’s also had decent prices on the other appliances too.

I’ve been longing for a gas range for quite some time, so we decided to investigate that option. I discovered, much to my surprise, that a gas range isn’t any spendier than an electric range.  In fact, the mid-level one that I picked was $400 LESS than the flat-top range we bought for the old house and (sob) left behind.

We still had to get the kitchen plumbed for gas, and once we’d added in that cost, the gas range was a *tetch* spendier than the range at the old house.   Darn. But the plumber, who turns out to be a neighbor of ours, very kindly plumbed the back patio for gas while he was at it, which gave us a lot more bang for the buck.  Now we can hook our barbecue up, and never fill a propane tank again. Woohoo!

Here’s the kitchen with the old appliances, when the previous owner still lived here.


Here’s the gas range installed– I’m completely delighted with my new toy tool.  You might be able to see that it has a center griddle element– haven’t tried that out yet, but it looks like fun, doesn’t it?


And here’s the whole kitchen with its new shinies.


I am going to be a bit fussy cleaning them to keep them looking nice – and I very much hope we are done with appliance purchases for a long time!

Last night after cooking dinner on my awesome new stove, we sat down to eat and I said jubilantly, “ALL our appliances work now!”

“Shhh!!” John said. “The washer and dryer will hear you!”

Let’s hope not.

Family Dinner

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with this new house, especially when it comes to having company!  Most weekends John and I invite our kids all over for a meal, sometimes in the evening, or sometimes for brunch.  Often John’s mom and my parents are able to come, and the kids are welcome to invite friends.  So almost always we have 20+ people here.

In the old house we put the dining table diagonal sending it out into the living room so that we could seat that many bodies at the table.  Then our 6 little grandkids would get out toys, and pretty soon it was difficult to even get around in the room, let alone find a good place to sit.  Here at the new house, I’ve chosen to leave one end of the living room empty except for the piano.  That allows us to add two 8 foot folding tables onto the end of the regular dining table, making it truly huge.  And still the living room is spacious, even after the kids have strung toys around the room.  We are so much enjoying all the space.  Here are a couple of shots of the table all ready for company this past weekend.  I meant to also get a photo of the table full of loved ones, but as usual, I was too much enjoying the time to stop and take a photo.


Longtable2This week we handed over keys to our old house which was a little sad  (such a good house it’s been for us) but mostly a relief.  We have put so many hours of work in there, even after moving– driving back and forth between the houses over and over and over — that it is lovely to just have the one place to focus on for now.

Today John is organizing the garage, and planning out the shop that he will be building in the back yard.  At the moment there are piles of tarped-off wood at the side of the house near the garage, as well as other random things that just will not fit into the garage.  It’s not terrible, but I am looking forward to having a bit more indoor storage for these things, as it will really make the area at the side of the house look more organized.

I have been doing lots of thinking about what we will be putting in our back yard to help with outdoor entertaining.  John got a new barbecue grill the other day– a key piece!  🙂  We are also hoping to cover the patio with something that looks trellis-lattice-work-ish.  (Then I can string lights!  🙂 )

Speaking of lights, (with a little help from Julianna, age 11) I installed those $29 Costco bargain lights on the exterior of the house, and we couldn’t be happier with them.

Here’s a picture of the new light side by side with the light that was beside the back door.


Here’s a picture of the house with the original lights.  Certainly the lights are fine, but definitely builder-grade and nothing memorable.


And here’s the front of the house with the new lights installed. At the distance that I took the photos, it doesn’t look all that different, maybe.  But in real life it is a fun upgrade.HouseNewLights

They are LED’s — very bright at night, and thanks to the wavy glass, they throw an interesting pattern of light out there.  It turns out they also come with a light sensor, which means they turn on automatically at night, and then off again during the day. Since I didn’t bother to read the packaging when I picked up the lights at Costco, that was a totally unexpected bonus.  So much fun.

Also in this pix is Em, having fun with her ripstick.  The two youngest girls are enjoying something they’ve never had in their lives– sidewalks for scootering and skateboarding.  What a concept!  They do, however, also miss the chickens, a fact that rather surprised me, since when we were living out in the country, feeding the chickens was NOT the highlight of their day, especially in the cold, cold winter.  I guess there are tradeoffs everywhere!

What’s new with you?  Are you looking forward to spring as much as I am?